FedEx’s new Cessna deal creates launch point for pilot training program

FedEx Express entered a purchase agreement with Textron Aviation for 50 of its new Cessna SkyCourier 408 turboprop planes for its fleet of feeder aircraft, and has an option to purchase up to another 50 of the aircraft.

Earlier this month, FedEx also announced it had signed an agreement to be the launch customer for the new ATR 75-600 production freighter, under which FedEx will purchase 30 of the freighters with options to increase the order to 20 more. The purchases are part of FedEx’s strategy to modernize its feeder fleet and develop a pilot training program, according to Greg Hall, executive vice president of air operations with FedEx Express.

“That strategy will not only improve our fuel efficiency and fleet reliability, but thanks to a collaborative training program we are planning, will create a reliable pipeline of well-qualified pilot applicants for FedEx Express pilot jobs, leveraging the experience they will gain in our feeder system,” Hall said.

At 6,000 lbs, the Cessna SkyCourier 408 has more than twice the maximum payload of the Cessna 208B aircraft currently in FedEx’s fleet. The large cargo doors on the planes also support container and pallet operations for the aircraft, which can handle up to three LD3 containers in a departure from the Cessna 208B design that mandates bulkload airfreight transport. Delivery of the new aircraft are expected to begin in mid-2020.

For more on the order, see our sister site, Cargo Facts.

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